The last two times I fueled my 2001 C-Hawk center console, I could smell gas
fumes from under the console. With all doors and hatches open, the fumes dis-
sipated after a few hours. Finding no evidence of a fuel leak, my mechanic says
the fuel hoses on a 2001 boat weren’t made to handle ethanol and could be
deteriorating. Do you agree, and if so, do you feel I should replace all the fuel
hoses with ones made to handle ethanol? Alan Sitnik
DON CASEY: No, and yes. Proper fuel hoses, marked “J1527”, have been compatible with
ethanol-containing fuel since the early ‘90s. However, that doesn’t make them impervious
to aging. Manufacturers typically assign a 10-year lifespan to gasoline
hoses. That makes replacing the fuel hoses on your 2001 boat a good
precaution. Hopefully that will solve your problem. Gasoline fumes
can be an extremely dangerous condition, so if the smell persists after
replacing hoses, find the source before continuing to use this boat.
We’ve had major damage to our inverter-charger following a thun-
derstorm. Two years ago, we had a large claim with similar dam-
age involving much of our electronics as well. Most recently,
the boat was plugged into shore power but the batteries were
switched off, so just the battery charger and inverter were damaged.
Would a surge protector help avoid damage in the future? I leave
the boat unplugged when a storm is predicted, but the last one
snuck up on us. John Holcombe
Suttons Bay, MI
BETH LEONARD: First of all, with lightning there are no guarantees. But a good
surge-protection system might prevent more
damage. There are a couple of grades of
surge protection. The little ones, often used
in home power strips, use metal oxide
varisters (MOV) that fail pretty quickly in
a surge situation and are unlikely to provide adequate protection in your situation.
Industrial-strength surge protectors, known
as WVRs (Wide Voltage Range), work differently and have a better track record of
protecting delicate electronics from “
normal” power surges. These also provide some
protection from lightning surges, though a
direct lightning strike could still overwhelm
them. For a detailed description of MOV vs.
WVR technology and a discussion of the
products available, go to www.zerosurge.
com. You’ll have to decide if the cost of one
of these is justified based on the likelihood of
losing another inverter-charger to lightning.
In theory, it would be possible to get a
unit to provide whole-boat protection, but
it would be costly. If you decided to go this
route, don’t go to a residential electrician
because they won’t understand the nuances
of marine electrical systems. Marine electricians are more likely to know how to install
this type of surge protection in a boat.
IT’S THE LAW!
I’m looking at a boat with a 200-hp engine
and only a 175-hp rating on the capacity
plate. What are the legal consequences of
exceeding the horsepower rating? Would
BoatU.S. insure this boat for me in Florida?
What happens if I get boarded by the
Coast Guard? James Szabo
Sioux Falls, SD
JOHN ADEY: Insurers will typically consider a boat that exceeds the stated rating as
non-insurable. In addition, a 200-hp engine
on a boat with a 175 placard is against most
state laws and violates a federal requirement
(that the states will enforce). Engine weight
is taken into account when considering the
capacity and flotation of the boat. A completely different “powering” test is undertaken by the manufacturer to determine
what horsepower the boat can safely handle.
PRACTICAL BOATER | ASK THE EXPERTS
provide information on safe load
limits and are
required on all
less than 20
feet in length,
but are often included on boats
up to 26 feet